Meet the Therapist: Nicolette Wilson-Clarke
What attracted you to become a therapist?
In my earlier professional years, I was a personal trainer, sports masseur, Pilates teacher, dance teacher and senior yoga teacher. I worked independently and in health clubs progressing from floor staff to management.
Over the years, I started to observe patterns of behaviour that prevented clients from moving forwards not only physically but also in other areas of their lives.
I noticed an inability to move away from harmful experiences, feelings of being stuck and held back by limited self-talk. I observed how these difficult times created continual challenges within their relationships and hindered their physical progressions.
I honestly believed that these obstacles could be overcome however I was lacking the full set of skills to assist with making it happen.
As the years flowed by, I had visions of being part of a creative team supporting their highs and lows as their in-house Body and Mind Consultant/Coach/Therapist.
I was unsure of what this actually looked like but images of me working in a dance company, music company or tv/film production company where I supported their mental health would float by daily.
I knew that my knowledge about the brain was limited and would need development but I also had not seen any examples of this role within the creative community and wondered how it might look.
One evening at home, I was watching an episode of Billions and BAM!! There it was! My example.
Before me was in-house Performance Coach and psychiatrist Wendy Rhoades played by actress Maggie Siff.
Wendy was an integral part of the company mainly because of the wins the company boss Bobby Axelrod had achieved with her by his side. I really resonated with the idea of a growing team of people who understood the need to reach out for mental health support in their business/personal lives.
Watching episodes of Billions reinforced my belief that it was possible to shift the creative community’s perception of therapy because I was seeing what I believed and I believed what I saw. I felt inspired to pursue my vision of working with the minds and well-being of creatives. Today you’ll find me assisting creative clients in creative institutions one-one or through group facilitations.
Where did you train?
I initially trained with Animas Centre for Coaching as a Transformational Coach followed by deeper learnings to become an accredited Master Coach with coaching academy MasterCoach.
This optimally laid the foundations for me to understand the workings of the brain and its possibility of rewiring. By then, I was also keen to integrate my previous skills of the body into my work and so trained as an accredited Somatic Coach.
Along the way I have maintained my knowledge through CPDs in Positive Psychology, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, Dialectical Behaviour Therapy, Emotional Intelligence and Group Coaching Facilitation. It started to made sense to put this under the umbrella of psychotherapy so I sealed everything with a Psychotherapy and Counselling Diploma.
I am continuously developing my knowledge to be able to serve my clients with excellence. I have recently completed my Mental Health First Aider, in light of the pandemic to be able to arm creatives with this knowledge to help each other and I have also completed Performance Anxiety training which is relevant in so many areas other than performance in the creative’s life .
Additionally, I am soon to take a diploma in Modern Applied Psychology to be able to better understand how psychology can apply to us today especially post pandemic.
Can you tell us about the type of therapy you practise?
Having a brain that leans more towards creativity can often mean heightened intuition and a deeper connection to emotions causing enhanced responses to life’s experiences and uncertainty regarding how to deal with them.
I’ve found that dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT) has been highly successful in supporting my creative clients in positively processing their past experiences plus accepting present-day impacts without blame and shame.
This type of therapy stems from cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), helping the client to explore how two polarising feelings can exist at the same time, for example self-acceptance whilst working through change or loving a mother who puts you down.
My clients learn to focus, understand and accept difficult feelings, implement skills to manage them and compassionately make the desired changes in life.
I’ve found though that having a variety of therapeutic styles in my toolbox allows me the freedom to offer what the client needs in the moment outside of DBT.
How does DBT help with symptoms of anxiety?
Anxiety is when you experience feelings of unease that can manifest themselves in symptoms like fear (usually about the future) and worry.
During these episodes you release a flood of chemicals into the body to prepare for fight or flight. Your breathing rate increases for more oxygen to the brain, your digestive system pauses, you may freeze on the spot, feel hot, sweaty, dizzy or nauseas, feel your muscles tighten, want to use the bathroom, have a dry mouth and above all have an inability to concentrate on anything other than the anxiety itself.
Unfortunately, during this time it is impossible to think logically or to see the truth of what is happening. Your body is closed, tight and wound and if you’re not seeking professional help, you may find yourself in a continuous loop of anxiety thus impacting both your mental and physical health.
DBT helps you differentiate the emotions from the facts thus allowing skilful emotional management.
As a creative, trusting your emotions is integral to the creative process so DBT is a powerful way to cultivate self-trust, mental space and emotional freedom which are not possible whilst feeling anxious.
What sort of people do you usually see?
Most of my clients are creatives in some capacity either by profession or hobby. They range from between 23-50 years old however I’m really happy to work with those between 23 and 100 years old!
Recently, I’ve been supporting my clients with anxiety, vision clarification, trauma, depression, change and questioning their purpose.
What do you like about being a therapist?
Being a therapist allows me to honour my own personal values, purpose and vision of how I choose to contribute to society because without honouring myself, it’s not possible to fully serve others.
My number one value is LOVE which I translate as Learning to Own Volatile Emotions.
So, I believe that when you can learn to sit with charged emotions that negatively spark at the slightest stimulus, take ownership of and responsibility for them, make friends with them - you can begin to love and accept yourself for who you are.
As a therapist, I have the opportunity to support creatives in finding their way to love – whatever that means to them – and assist them in understanding how to make peace with their bruised selves.
What is less pleasant?
Not being able to reach everyone who needs help.
How long have you been with welldoing.org and what do you think of us?
I’ve been with welldoing.org since the beginning of March 2021 and have been immediately welcomed in. I’m really looking forward to utilising their amazing benefits as a member and contributing to the welldoing.org community.
Do you ever suggest books or apps to clients?
I’m presently reading Brene Brown, Daring Greatly and Brian Tracy, Maximum Achievement. Most days, I get inspiration from The Art of Happiness, HH Dalai Lama & Howard C. Cutler.
What you do for your own mental health?
I reflect every night on the day’s occurrences, consider my learnings and decide what experiences I’ll keep or discard. I meditate every morning and give myself time to reflect, process and create possibilities for the day ahead. Sometimes I write what comes up.
Balance is extremely important to me so I ensure that I sleep, eat and hydrate well. I love physical activity, so I move my body every morning with Pilates, yoga, dance technique, cardio or weights using bands during lockdown.
I incorporate body therapy at least 3-4 times a month seeing a manipulative facilitation therapist and implement my own weekly body work of self-massage, manipulation, hydro care and physical exploration.
I love to read for leisure and self-development using books and audiobooks plus music is especially important to me so I use it to stay focused, shift stale energy and for play.
Talking with friends and having spaces to show up warts and all allows me to remain authentic to who I am. All of this supports my own mental health, allowing me to assist others in need.
What’s your consultation room like?
I presently offer sessions online in my office at home due to the pandemic. When I’m at my clinic, the rooms are airy, comfortable and bright. They are accessible, close to public transport, shops and open spaces.
What do you wish people knew about therapy?
I really wish people could appreciate that mental illness does not discriminate. It can affect anyone, at any time and having therapy sessions does not mean you’re less than.
In fact, by reaching out to a professional therapist, you are creating abundance by realising that you can do something to cope with life’s challenges and create change in your life.
Therapy can offer you a different perspective on the situation at hand, support you in understanding your emotions and assist you in positively conveying them to others for better relationships.
What did you learn about yourself in therapy?
I learnt that my role in life is not to fix others.
This was a massive breakthrough for me and it took me from feeling helpless in certain areas of my life to creating power and clarity over how I serve myself and others both professionally and personally.